Panera Bread sees spike in call buying

The company scored positive analyst attention, fueling a run on front-month calls.

By Jul 17, 2012 4:00PM
Image: Bread (© Corbis)Restaurateur Panera Bread (PNRA) saw a relatively rare spike in call trading Tuesday after the stock won praise in a bullish brokerage note. By midday, the equity saw roughly 3,400 calls cross the tape -- more than 10 times its average intraday call volume.

Digging deeper, we find the now in-the-money July 145 call is most active, with more than 2,700 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 600, pointing to a slew of fresh initiations. What's more, the majority of the front-month calls have crossed at the ask price, suggesting they were purchased. By buying the calls to open, the traders are expecting Panera Bread to extend its journey north of $145 throughout the next week.

Shares of Panera Bread were trading up nearly 2% to $147.45 Tuesday afternoon, thanks to some upbeat analyst attention from KeyBanc. Specifically, the brokerage firm said the restaurant sector is "well-positioned to either take advantage of an improving economy or face the challenges of another recession," and named Panera Bread one of its two favorite industry components.

Against this backdrop, Panera Bread has shot more than 3.1% higher to dance atop the $148 level. As a result, the stock is on pace to end the week north of its 10-week moving average for the first time since mid-April. This trendline ushered Panera Bread higher in late 2011 and early 2012, guiding the equity to an all-time high of $165.99 in late March, and could once again resume its role as support.

As alluded to earlier, though, today's appetite for bullish bets marks a change of pace among Panera Bread's options crowd. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and Nasdaq OMX PHLX (PHLX), investors have bought to open more than four Panera Bread puts for every call during the past couple of weeks. In fact, the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 4.17 stands just five percentage points from a 52-week peak, suggesting speculators are initiating bearish bets over bullish at a near annual-high clip.In the same vein, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (or SOIR) of 1.32 tells us that puts outnumber calls among options slated to expire within three months. Compared to similar readings taken during the past year, this ratio stands in the 82nd percentile. In other words, near-term options traders are more put-skewed than usual at the moment.

However, peak put open interest in the front-month series resides at the July 145 strike, with close to 1,800 puts in residence. Over the next week, this plethora of pessimistic positions could translate into options-related support for Panera Bread.

This article by Andrea Kramer was originally published on Schaeffer's Investment Research.
Tags: PNRA


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